May 23, 2022, 7:30 pm

For weeks we’ve been watching Republicans squirm to find a messaging balance.

The party as a whole is attempting to walk a bizarre tightrope as leaders try to downplay Republicans’ unadulterated joy at the defeat of Roe, a social issue the GOP’s been using as a policy placeholder for decades, in the face of our evidence-backed reality: support for abortion access is at a record high among Americans across the political spectrum.

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-Nicole Lafond
May 23, 2022, 1:20 pm

As I’ve argued, I don’t think we should care that much about whether Elon Musk purchases Twitter. Having a mercurial scofflaw purchase the company should simply remind us that it’s a private company, not the 21st-century public square or anything like it. Social media companies have a deep interest in convincing us of these things and then luring the public into a faux corporatized speech jurisprudence in which they of course are always in charge. So while it seems increasingly unlikely that Musk’s purchase of Twitter will go through, let it burn is probably the best policy response. But as Musk has been all over the news and increasingly associating himself with the far-right, I’ve been increasingly interested in his main company, Tesla.

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-Josh Marshall
May 23, 2022, 9:11 am

So many aspects of our corruption are so clear and so profound in their implications that most of the political class and elite publications aren’t even able to grapple with them. This article in the Times only glances at the surface of it. What was once an enduring alliance between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has transformed into something more like an alliance between the Kingdom and the GOP, with a fairly open effort to undermine the Presidency of Joe Biden on behalf of the latter. And it’s not just the GOP. There’s a particular role for Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law who is toasted in the Kingdom as something like the de facto leader’s best friend.

-Josh Marshall
May 21, 2022, 6:14 am

Journalist Sarah Posner discussed her recent article for TPM, “How Christian Nationalism And The Big Lie Fused To Fuel Doug Mastriano’s Candidacy,” on MSNBC last night. Watch:

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-John Light
May 20, 2022, 1:05 pm

The racist mass shooting in Buffalo seems to have brought us to something of a turning point in the American right’s embrace of “Great Replacement” theory as an operating framework of politics. Rather than running away from Great Replacement thinking, they’ve essentially said, “But it’s true. We can’t help that this one guy took things too far.” Indeed as you can see from our headline piece, Matt Schlapp of CPAC is now suggesting ways to limit political violence within the framework of Great Replacement politics. If you’re worried about immigrants “replacing us” the best strategy is to make more of “us,” by which he means ban abortion and thus increase the birth rate of “us.” Sort of a kinder gentler Great Replacement theory, though possibly not that kind or gentle if you have an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.

Schlapp didn’t explicitly refer to white babies and brown babies. But I’m not sure he really had to.

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-Josh Marshall
May 20, 2022, 10:12 am
RUSSIANS INVADE UKRAINE -- MARCH 22, 2022:  01 Maxar satellite imagery of the overview of fires burning in residential area, Livoberezhnyi District, Mariupol, Ukraine. 22march2022_wv3.   Please use: Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies.

I went back and forth over whether to share this email from TPM Reader ME. But I decided to do so because I think he focuses our attention on aspects of the Ukraine war which aren’t at the top of the headlines but are central to how this conflict turns out and how the conflict plays out beyond Ukraine’s borders. I confess that while I certainly knew how Ukraine is the “breadbasket of Russia” or the “breadbasket of Europe” I didn’t appreciate how central Ukrainian grain production remains in our globalized 21st century world when so many regions of the world have been opened to mechanized agriculture and the trade systems that move grain production worldwide.

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-Josh Marshall
May 19, 2022, 11:20 am

It was only a matter of time. A candidate for Governor in Colorado has a proposal: create an in-state electoral college that will systematically over-weight rural votes and thus make it almost impossible for a Republican not to win the governorship as well as other statewide offices. Basically, counties take the place of states and Colorado has a ton of rural counties where very few people live. From what I can tell, he’s not the most likely nominee. But he won the top spot on the primary ballot at the state convention. So he’s not some random gadfly either. In any case, Gov. Jared Polis is popular and seems like a shoe-in for reelection. But this seems like the leading edge of the broader trend.

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-Josh Marshall
May 19, 2022, 11:02 am

Some clarification from TPM Reader RM on nasal vaccines and their utility.

I just thought I would add to your statement that nasal vaccines “likely offer a different level or kind of immunity”.  This is totally correct, but I would comment on some of the biology that underlies that statement. 

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-Josh Marshall
May 18, 2022, 5:51 pm

When Donald Trump looks at Dr. Oz, he sees himself.

(He probably sees his own reflection in the glint in everyone’s eye, but …)

Mehmet Oz is super close to transforming into his highest self as a Trump mini-me — he’s already got the celeb status, he’s a reality TV host with no business being in politics, he’s just as bombastic in his MAGA beliefs as the ex-president. But he’s missing one key ingredient that Trump is already subtly calling him out for.

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-Nicole Lafond
May 18, 2022, 2:19 pm

On May 26 at 1 p.m. EDT, TPM’s Kate Riga will be hosting a virtual panel discussion with experts and practitioners on the reality of a post-Roe world. What can we expect when the Supreme Court rules, and in the days after? How did we get here, and what does this mean for civil liberties broadly? How will this affect the day-to-day lives of Americans state by state? Join us as we parse out answers. The event is free. Register here.

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-Zainab Shah
x

ComeyWire

Trump’s Lawyer: President Didn’t Pressure Comey To Drop Flynn Probe

Marc Kasowitz personal attorney of President Donald Trump  makes a statement following the congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey at the National Press Club in Washington, Thursday, June 8, 2017.    (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Responding to fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer denied that Trump pressured Comey to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

“[T]he President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including — the President never suggested that Mr. Comey quote, let Flynn go, close quote,” Marc Kasowitz, Trump’s lawyer, said at a press briefing Thursday, reading from prepared remarks.

He later addressed Comey’s written recollection that the President had asked for his “loyalty.”

“The President also never told Mr. Comey, quote, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty, close quote. He never said it in form, and he never said it in substance,” Kasowitz said.

But, Kasowitz  hedged, “Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration.”

Kasowitz’s focus, it seemed, was on Comey’s admission that he had given his written recollection of a meeting with Trump to a friend of his, and had asked the friend to provide the New York Times with the information.

“[F]rom before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications,” Kasowitz said. “Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.”

He added later: “We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along with all the others that are being investigated.”

Read Kasowitz’s full prepared remarks here.

Comey’s Testimony Casts President Trump As An Untrustworthy Liar

Former FBI Director James Comey’s characteristically measured testimony Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee communicated one fact clearly: he doesn’t think much of the current President of the United States.

Over and over during his three-hour-long appearance, Comey painted Donald Trump as a free-wheeling, habitually untruthful commander-in-chief with little respect for the independence of the FBI.

Trump himself has taken gleeful potshots at Comey, tweeting in the days after he removed Comey as FBI director that he had “lost the confidence” of both Republicans and Democrats and denigrated the “spirit and prestige of the FBI.” He also reportedly told senior Russian officials that Comey was “crazy, a real nut job,” who was insistent on pursuing an investigation into their interference in the 2016 election.

Now a private citizen, and knowing the eyes of Americans all over the country were on his testimony, Comey made his own personal views on Trump explicit.

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Dem Senator: Trump Should Follow Comey’s Example And Testify Under Oath

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on Thursday said President Donald Trump should match fired FBI Director James Comey and testify under oath and in public.

Following Comey’s appearance in an open session before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Murphy released a statement saying it was “hard to overstate the impact” of Comey’s testimony.

“If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the President’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” Murphy said.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of Jim Comey’s testimony today. For the first time, under oath and penalty of perjury, the former FBI Director testified that the president repeatedly pressed him for a pledge of loyalty, and asked him to drop the investigation into illegal activity of a White House staffer at the center of the Russia probe. A couple months later, after neither request was fulfilled, Trump fired him,” said Murphy. “That confirms that media reports aren’t ‘fake news’ – they’re very real and very concerning.”

“Every day, it seems like the walls are closing in on this president. What’s most important is that investigators in the Senate and at the Department of Justice get all the facts and find the truth. If the White House’s account differs from what we heard today, the American people deserve to hear the president’s side of the story in a similar forum – under oath and open to the press,” added Murphy.

Ryan ‘Not Saying It’s An Acceptable Excuse’ That Trump Is ‘New At This’

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained fired FBI Director James Comey’s claim that President Donald Trump asked him to drop the federal investigation into ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn by saying that “The President’s new at this.”

“He’s new to government. And so, he probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” Ryan said, asked about Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee at his weekly press conference Thursday.

“You said the President is new at this, he’s not steeped in the long-running protocols,” one reporter followed up later in the briefing. “He has a staff. He has a White House counsel. Why is that an acceptable excuse for him?”

“I’m not saying it’s an acceptable excuse. It’s just my observation,” Ryan said.

“So there’s nothing — is this something that should be corrected?” the reporter asked.

“He’s new at government, and so therefore I think that he — he is learning as he goes,” Ryan responded.

Repeatedly, Ryan said that he now knew why Trump was “frustrated” by stories on Russian meddling.

Still, when pressed, he wouldn’t definitively say whether Trump’s behavior was appropriate.

“I’m not going to comment on these things,” he said, asked for his opinion on the matter. “Because these are all apart of these ongoing investigations and I’m not gonna prejudge this stuff, because what I don’t want to do is — in the middle of a House Intelligence Committee investigation, a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, and now an independent counsel — is to speculate on the day-to-day intrigue of all of these issues.”

NY Times Looking Into Story Comey Agreed Was ‘Almost Completely Wrong’

The New York Times on Thursday said it is “looking into” reporting that fired FBI Director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee is inaccurate.

Sen. James Risch (R-ID) on Thursday cited a February report by the New York Times that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign had “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence officials before the 2016 election.

“That report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?” he asked.

“In the main, it was not true,” Comey replied. “The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is that people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on and those of us who actually know what’s going on are not talking about it.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Comey, “Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?”

“Yes,” Comey replied.

“Did you have at the time that story was published any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?” Cotton pressed.

“That’s one I can’t answer sitting here,” Comey said.

He did not specify how much of the story was inaccurate, or which allegations were untrue.

Comey: Trump ‘Pulled Up Short’ When He Remembered I Didn’t Pledge Loyalty (VIDEO)

Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Fired FBI Director James Comey on Thursday speculated that President Donald Trump came up short in April when he sought leverage to persuade Comey to publicly announce that Trump was not under investigation.

In his prepared testimony released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey said Trump told him in April: “I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.”

Comey said he did not respond or ask Trump to clarify.

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Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Donald Trump, was in the room for Thursday’s hearing with former FBI Director James Comey.

Comey: I Was Fired In Order To Influence Probe Into Russian Election Meddling (VIDEO)

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Fired FBI Director James Comey testified Thursday before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he thinks he was fired to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said. “I was fired in some way to change or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted.”

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